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Autumn girl

Dealing With Anger And Regret

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I was completely entrenched in fundamentalist Christianity for my entire life. It colored literally everything I thought about or acted upon. The process of coming out of that indoctrination has taken place with waves of realization. It started last September, almost one year ago, and is still coming in waves. I read Neale Donald Walshe's book What God Wants in a 24 hour period last week. I cried, I paced, I threw out the rest of my fundamentalist Christian stuff (I had already done that, in spurts of emotion here and there within the last year, but I had kept some things due to sentimental value or thinking that I might go back to it one day), I was (and am) still dealing with anger and regret and a lot of lost time that I spent trying to be worthy of God's love, trying to do what HE wanted me to do, not what I wanted...so many shoulds. All the time, shoulds. Never "I want". That wasn't allowed. I practically tortured myself for years and years trying to find out what Jesus wanted me to do, say, believe, interpret correctly from the bible, act upon, not do, not say, not THINK. It was a never ending guilt fest. This was despite the fact that I had other Christians around me saying that all God wants is me, not my works, but me, and that he loved me more than anyone could and better than anyone could. This frustrated me to no end because I couldn't FEEL God's love on a consistent basis, so I thought something was wrong with me. Reading the bible is one thing that perpetuated my frustration because that book is INTENSE! It's no joke! I would read things like Isaiah 64:6:

 

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

 

What is a young girl supposed to do with that, huh? Filthy rags? Anything I do is worthless? Unless of course I manage to somehow do it through Jesus living inside me. What the !@#$?! It never made sense. Hence the endless searching and torturing myself.

 

After reading the first half of What God Wants, where Neale Donald Walshe goes through all of the things the world has believed and perpetuated through religious thinking, I realized that I don't want to go back to the box of religion ever again. Spirituality, yes, maybe, but not religion. I don't want my kids to have any more religious baggage than they already do. They were exposed to fundamentalist Christianity for years and now I have to go back and try to bring healing. Not through more religion, but through sharing things with them at leisurely moments of pondering together about things people in the world believe about God, religion, and what I have come to understand (so far), etc.

 

I am taking a huge leap away from all things Christian. I need to finally look at what I want. Not what God wants (which Neale proposes is *nothing*), but to spend time looking into my heart and mind and ask what it is that I want for myself in this life of MINE.

 

Is anyone else reading this willing to share their experience with anger, regret, and handling the emotions that come during the waves of getting oneself out of religion?

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I had reached the breaking point. My self despising had brought be to the brink of psychological suicide. I was a total human "doing."

 

The words "Why dig in this field (my life) if there is no treasure there?" haunted me.

 

For as far back as I can remember I can still hear "Son if you are ever going to amount to any thing in life you have got to go out there and get it!"

 

My history, my life, who I was and what matter to me was worthless, needy, filthy rages! "You need to be digging into the Buddha's life, or into Jesus' life, now that is where you'll find worth and treasure!"

 

So I did, but my self despising grew larger and my human spirit became the dust of righteous and holy men!

 

Distraught, racked with guilt and shame I reached out to an old and wise friend who whispered into my ear these words:

 

"If there is anything at all to unconditional love it is this, there is noting you can do to make unconditional love, love you any more and there is nothing you can do to make unconditional love, love you any less!"

 

Those were the opening words to the autobiography that is my life. Those were the words that gave me the courage and the confidence yo discover the treasure of my own life!

 

My history is not the history of the Buddha or of Jesus or of Mohammad! My history is about my own struggles and triumphs, my shadow sides and light.

 

Enough already, this is my life!

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I'm sure there are many of us here who understand what you are going through. When I left my faith behind, I too went through many days of regret over a life lost chasing something that didn't exist. When I was a believer, I couldn't ever feel worthy. How could I? The standard set before me was perfection. I never understood those who didn't seem bothered by their failings and short-comings.

 

Now I realize it is because that is who they are and I am who I am. There's no "holy ghost" residing in me to guide me through life and show me god's perfect plan for me. I yam what I yam and most people don't realize how liberating that thought is! (Well, maybe the folks here do, but in the general population they don't.)

 

I'm FREEEEEE! WEEEEEE!

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Hi Autumn Girl, and welcome to Ex-C. I don't really know where to start. All I can say is that it can be a ugly process, but is well worth it. A book which was of immeasurable help to me was "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell. It really helped to guide me through the uncomfortable process. Plus this site helped keep me sane. There were days when just hearing from someone that I was not going to die and go to hell was comforting. I would suggest to just let yourself slowly work through it. I had periods where I simply had to take a couple of days off from even thinking about religious stuff just to keep sane. You will make it through it. Good to have you here.

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I'm sure there are many of us here who understand what you are going through. When I left my faith behind, I too went through many days of regret over a life lost chasing something that didn't exist. When I was a believer, I couldn't ever feel worthy. How could I? The standard set before me was perfection. I never understood those who didn't seem bothered by their failings and short-comings.

 

Now I realize it is because that is who they are and I am who I am. There's no "holy ghost" residing in me to guide me through life and show me god's perfect plan for me. I yam what I yam and most people don't realize how liberating that thought is! (Well, maybe the folks here do, but in the general population they don't.)

 

I'm FREEEEEE! WEEEEEE!

 

Autumn girl, I couldn't agree more with what Infidel said. And it does take time. I have been very slowly deconverting. I didn't realize when I first came to EX-c, the hold this had on me. Keep reading all the testimonies - you will see that you are not alone! We are here for you!

 

And Infidel.....Welcome to EX-c!

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A book which was of immeasurable help to me was "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell. It really helped to guide me through the uncomfortable process. Plus this site helped keep me sane. There were days when just hearing from someone that I was not going to die and go to hell was comforting. I would suggest to just let yourself slowly work through it. I had periods where I simply had to take a couple of days off from even thinking about religious stuff just to keep sane. You will make it through it. Good to have you here.

 

It's been almost a year since this all began. The painful feelings definitely come in waves. It's been a while since I was this affected, and it took me by surprise honestly. I thought (and hoped) that I was over the largest portion of my inner turmoil over this.

 

And I wish I could find as much solace in Leaving the Fold as you have. I used to own it. Long story.

 

I am in therapy with someone who completely understands where I'm coming from and is very supportive, so that's good. It's just that I don't see him until Wednesday and it's Sunday. :( When things flare up like this it's hard to wait.

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Autumn Girl, try thinking about the underlying reasons for certain Christian theological doctrines. Doing so just may help to free you from them. For example, what would be the reason for a group of people long ago to write something like you quoted from Isaiah 64:6 and for modern preachers to continue preaching about it today? The reason they want you to feel like "filthy rags" is because in their theology the only way you can be "clean" is through submission to their god who is the only one who can cleanse you. But it's not really submission to their non-existent god that they desire. Rather, it is your submission to them that they want. It's another one of many control mechanisms built into the human-made religion. Control over others is what those who are power hungry want more than anything else. And never doubt that those preachers you encountered all those years you were a Christian want control and power over you and others. They do. It's how they can convince people to give them money and help them build their churches ever larger. It's also why they scare people with the doctrine of hell and cajole them with promises of heaven.

 

For me, at least, coming to terms with this harsh reality was an early step to freedom. And once you are free from them and their mind games, then the edge of anger that you feel now will begin to subside and eventually leave you. And the regret you feel for falling for it for so many years (like the rest of us did, too) will turn into joy for your having been one of the few that actually wised up and saw through what they were up to.

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I am taking a huge leap away from all things Christian. I need to finally look at what I want. Not what God wants (which Neale proposes is *nothing*), but to spend time looking into my heart and mind and ask what it is that I want for myself in this life of MINE.

 

Is anyone else reading this willing to share their experience with anger, regret, and handling the emotions that come during the waves of getting oneself out of religion?

 

Hello autumn girl.

For years as a Christian I felt guilty at the mere thought of wanting to live my life as I chose. I had always been taught that such a desire was selfish, of the "world," and of Satan. I was supposed to view it with shame and contempt. Even after my deconversion, I still clung to this guilt. When someone would ask me why I was not a christian, I would never use the "wanting to live life as I choose" excuse as part of my response because I was afraid of being viewed as "self-centered" and egocentric. But I recently came to the conclusion that such guilt is unjustified. I asked myself, "Why should I be so shameful of wanting to live my life the way I wish? Is it really such a crime as long as I'm not hurting others?" The "fundies" would love for you to continue being a slave to this belief system. The mere thought that they could be wrong and that they may be following the teachings of barbaric men from the bronze age would be detrimental to their morale. So (now that you've come this far) I encourage you to free yourself of these chains and to follow your heart. Life is just too short to do otherwise.

 

:D

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A book which was of immeasurable help to me was "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell.

And I wish I could find as much solace in Leaving the Fold as you have. I used to own it. Long story.

 

I am in therapy with someone who completely understands where I'm coming from and is very supportive, so that's good. It's just that I don't see him until Wednesday and it's Sunday. :( When things flare up like this it's hard to wait.

 

Well, if the book didn't help, that's that. Am glad you have someone you are in therapy with. One of my uncles was raised fundie as I was, and he left years ago, so he has been a tremendous help to me also.

 

There was one thing I came to realize which was basically the final, fatal blow to my doubts. Christopher Hitchens does a fine job covering this in his book "God is not Great." Religions are started by one man who goes off somewhere alone and comes back with a message from God that we are all to suspend our thinking and follow this person. They either have a charismatic personality or some method of instilling fear or both. I am 100% atheist when it comes to the God of the Bible. If He is that all-knowing and loving and all-powerful, then there is absolutely no reason why He can't lead me into a cloud of smoke on a mountain, bury some golden plates in my yard, or whatever.

 

Sure, I regret it, because now I realize how close I was to figuring out that fundie Christianity was a load of crap, back when I was a teenager. Instead, it happened a little over 20 years later. There's been a lot of experiences happen over those 20 years which help cement it for me that Christianity does nothing for a person, that they can't do already for themselves.

 

Anyway, wishing you better days ahead.

 

 

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I think some part of me will always be angry. I don't bother with regret though. My life is what it is and now I just look forward. I am filled with complete and utter fury over the disgusting way that christians behave, that probably won't change.

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I was (and am) still dealing with anger and regret and a lot of lost time that I spent trying to be worthy of God's love, trying to do what HE wanted me to do, not what I wanted...so many shoulds. All the time, shoulds. Never "I want". That wasn't allowed.

 

The "shoulds" are there only so those in charge of the cult can get what THEY want FROM YOU. The character "Jesus" is a cover to keep your attention focused elsewhere.

 

 

Isaiah 64:6:

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

 

This is how I make lemonade from this lemon. If we can accept ourselves for who we are, and listen to ourselves, what good we do will be honest and free from the controlling demands of others. A genuine good work is done expecting nothing in return. Our good works (the rag itself) will then function to absorb the regrets in our lives (the filth the rag absorbed), making us more comfortable with ourselves. At least that's how I see it, and welcome to your new life.

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I deconverted this summer, I had anger issues, I'd obsess constantly about things that had happened in church 15 years previously, I was too paralyzed to get out of a stressful job, I ended up with some drug problems. Sweeping all my questions about God off of the table, I now have a clean slate to rebuild upon. I'm still going to therapy because I've developed lots of bad social and work habits that I need to work on.

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Learning that your entire life has been based on a lie, can twist people in all the wrong ways. Get over it the best you can, and enjoy life through your new eyes.

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Hi, Autumn Girl

 

It sounds like you are experiencing considerable cognitive dissonance, which is a terribly uncomfortable place to be. In my experience of my own deconversion, this was the worst phase! I didn't have the words for it at the time, and could only rage against that which was causing me such extreme mental distress. I was in a real state of crisis. It was terrible! As I let go of faith (starting with dropping fundamentalism) I found the writings of Brian McLaren (A Generous Orthodoxy) to be helpful, but like having a bad case of the stomach flu, there was more purging that had to be done, and soon even his perspective seemed grossly fundamentalist (the book was banned from my previous church...so finding it too fundy was an alarming signal to me at the time). From here, I went to some of Michael Shermer's books on the nature of belief, so that I could understand the nature of faith and the experiences I had had in the faith. I also read "Leaving the Fold" and other 'exit' books, including those by Dan Barker and John Loftus.

 

I do still have pangs of regret, about the things I 'gave to God', things that mark my life to this day. I have to tell myself (over and over) that at the time, I was making the best decisions based on the best available information/beliefs. It kind of sucks to still be paying for sacrifices made in the past (lost loves, lost valuables, lost time, lost talents, lost friends, lost opportunities); however, I try to focus on living life in the present and moving forward with my new information, so I can make better decisions and gain a better life back. This has probably been my biggest gain from atheism so far.

 

As for anger, I haven't been angry since leaving my faith; I was only angry when I was still in it and still believing it. The things I believed, the things I was told/led to believe have less and less hold on me, and the anger dissipates with each ridiculous notion I let go of. I guess our journeys are all different.Wendyshrug.gif

 

We'll never be good enough for God--that's how the system is set up. This way you are kept off-kilter, off-balance, and dependent. Wendytwitch.gif

 

I don't want to dish out unsolicited advice, but since you asked...I'd recommend not getting ahead of yourself in your deconversion process; stay honest to yourself and where you are at. Maybe try journaling about what you do believe, what you don't believe, and why. Journal the wrongs committed by Xianity against you and make decisions on how you will move forward. I went through a process like this where I had to choose what to believe about, for example, women's issues, since Xianity had squashed me as a female. Writing down your thoughts may help to gain some perspective on what is going on. Just my two cents and I do hope it helps. If not, please disregard!

 

Again, for me, the hardest and most confusing part was the cognitive dissonance, which made me deeply confused and incredibly angry and depressed. I have come through the other side and feel so much better!

 

Take care!

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I'd recommend not getting ahead of yourself in your deconversion process; stay honest to yourself and where you are at. Maybe try journaling about what you do believe, what you don't believe, and why. Journal the wrongs committed by Xianity against you and make decisions on how you will move forward. I went through a process like this where I had to choose what to believe about, for example, women's issues, since Xianity had squashed me as a female. Writing down your thoughts may help to gain some perspective on what is going on.

 

Several days ago I replied to this and another post from someone else, but I don't see them anymore. I don't know why they disappeared, but I just wanted to make sure, Positivist, that you know I'm thankful for what you wrote here. I think it will be very helpful indeed. :)

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